Having vaulted to the a-list only a few months after debut, IVE have entered an early ‘imperial phase’ where anything they touch is all-but guaranteed to be a hit. This kind of instant success can lead to quick stagnation, but the group has a great track record so far. Both Eleven and Love Dive have become long-lasting hits filled with iconic moments. And now, IVE have built an entire song around one of the icons of disco. New single After Like uses an ultra-familiar sample from Gloria Gaynor’s seminal 1978 anthem I Will Survive.
I Will Survive has a history within K-pop, with a (great!) Korean version hitting big in the 90’s and becoming a staple at performance shows and end-of-year festivals ever since. So, I imagine this instrumental sample will be familiar to a lot of listeners — even if subconsciously. As expected of an iconic track, this signature flurry of strings does most of After Like’s heavy lifting. But, the producers have built an actual song around them that’s more than a simple a riff on the melodies we’re all familiar with. After Like works as both a fun pastiche and a fantastic addition to the nu-retro trend of the past few years.
Pacing is a big thing for me, and I’m pleased that After Like finds its groove immediately and builds upon it. It would have been easy for the song to stray from its core elements, but its focus results in the sense of drive that’s vital to a good dance track. When the instrumental does change, it’s in service to a brilliant pre-chorus that brings house piano into the mix for a nice variation in texture. IVE paint the entire track with an effortless cool – a little subdued, but never boring. And although the chorus is more of a punt than a home run, it blends seamlessly with the bold sample that follows.